Big Black Bassist Dave Riley Dead at 59

Big Black Bassist Dave Riley Dead at 59
Dave Riley, the founding bassist for Steve Albini's noise rock group Big Black, died on December 24 following a battle with throat cancer. He was 59 years old.

Riley joined Big Black in 1984, performing on the band's seminal albums Atomizer and Songs About Fucking. He appeared on numerous other Big Black releases, and also worked as a music producer and engineer in Chicago. In that career, he worked with Parliament-Funkadelic, Rights of the Accused and many others.

In a statement sent to Rolling Stone, Albini said the following:

When I think about Dave, I think of him onstage, sweating, rolling on his heels, his bass making a rhythmic shrapnel cloud, the densest object in a very heavy construction. Then I think of him after the show, still sweaty but relaxed, easy with his humour and in possession of an impeccably sharp wit, comfortable with himself, comfortable being the hinge-pin of the evening. I miss playing with Dave, and I miss hanging out with him. He was a handful, but like most people we describe that way, he was worth it. Rest easy.

The news was confirmed via Riley's housemate and friend Rachel Brown. In a Facebook post, she explained that Riley had been confined to a wheelchair since suffering a stroke in the early '90s. 

"Dave never let his disabilities get in the way of what he wanted to do in life," Brown added. "He created music, wrote, traveled, ran an online store and helped take care of the cats in our rescue-cat sanctuary. In 2015 we retired to a small ranch in the hills of southern Arizona where Dave enjoyed swimming in the pool and spending time outdoors in the sunshine with our dogs and donkeys."

Read her full post about Riley's passing below.